Homer Simpson was made for fashion

Clapping, whispers, camera snapping, suspicious music: these are the voices of one Classic fashion show. Laughter laughs? They are less common.

Still many were heard on 2 October, which revolves around the 19th-century Parisian theatre, where the noble and storied house of Cristóbal Balenciaga abandoned the traditional catwalk and featured a 10-minute special episode of “The Simpsons”. Screened.

It was a surprise over a year in the making, and was the result of a sometimes grueling collaboration between two precise creative entities, known for their attention to detail. It has been viewed more than 5 lakh times on YouTube so far.

in the episode, Homer Balenciaga. writes to (“Dear Balloon, Balloon, Ballen, Balenciaga-ga,” he says as he struggles to pronounce the famous fashion name) for Marge’s birthday, explaining that his wife is always looking to achieve something by the brand. wants.

He asks for the cheapest item, which the Balenciaga team interprets as “one of those American gags that no one gets” and sends him a dress that costs 19,000 euros. After wearing it briefly, Marge returned the dress with a note saying she “will always remember those 30 minutes of feeling a little special.”

Back in Europe, Balenciaga’s artistic director Demna Gvasalia announced her note “saddest thing i’ve ever heard, and I grew up in the Soviet Union. This is exactly the kind of woman I want to reach!” He then travels to Springfield and decides to “rescue” the “deprived of style” by inviting them to model his clothes in Paris. Explaining that he wants “the world to see the real people on my show.”

Balenciaga sent 15 looks to the “Simpsons” team to choose from for the final show, all based on designs from the previous five years. (Source: Reuters/Fox)

10 minutes full of easter eggs Hardcore fan of both “The Simpsons” and Balenciaga. A private Balenciaga jet has landing gear that resembles the brand’s famous sock sneakers; Waylon Smithers chooses an outfit to wear when given the outfit of his choice; Lisa admits at first that walking the runway is “superficial” but then enjoys it a lot.

The collaboration began in April 2020, when Gvasalia sent “Simpsons” producer Matt Groening an email about working together.

Gvasalia, 40, who was born in Georgia and watched the show while he was growing up, said the idea came to him during the first lockdown of 2020. He has a penchant for blending Balenciaga into mass market trends: Under his direction, The Brand has collaborated with other American sensibilities, such as Crocs and Fortnite.

Of “The Simpsons”, he said, “I’ve always loved the tongue-in-cheek humour, the romance, and its charming naivety.”

“The Simpsons” executive producer and writer Al Jean said that when he found out about the Balenciaga project in January, “my reaction was, ‘What’s Balenciaga?'” He turned to Wikipedia for answers.

Their First pitch for Balenciaga They were framing Marge as her birthday wish – but with Gvasalia’s character it was decided that the brand’s next show would be held in Springfield. When the Balenciaga plane lands there, its models are not allowed in the United States because they are too thin and beautiful. The residents of Springfield become models, their nuclear plant is runway, and Balenciaga’s ghost appears.

But Balenciaga preferred that Springfield be brought to Paris, Jean said. From there, the story was revised and altered to such an extent that the writers joked about “Draft 52 of the Balenciaga script” – for two days. Before showing Paris.

Gvasalia made a special contribution to the script, Jean said. For example, the episode ends with Homer hugging and Marge singing from “La Mer” on a post-show party boat on the scene. But Gvasalia wanted one last joke, so he asked Homer’s jacket to be set on fire by a Frenchman smoking a cigar. Jean then suggests that Anna Wintour, who appeared in the front row of the fashion show, try to put out the fire with expensive champagne, which Homer tries to drink instead.

“She said, ‘Please don’t do this to me,’ so it became Demna,” Jean said. (Wintour otherwise approved the use of her likeness, but declined to voice her character, he said.) And that earlier line about Gvasalia growing up in the Soviet Union? The “Simpsons” team decided to cut it, but Gvasalia asked to reinstate it.

He also asked, day before the show, to change the color of a tear Wintour shade when viewing the Marge model. The teardrop was very light, and it wouldn’t read on-screen unless it was a deep blue. Jean and director David Silverman agreed.

“They were definitely our match, down to the last detail, making sure everything was perfect,” said Jean. “The animation crew is the hardest thing they’ve ever done since ‘The Simpsons Movie’.”

Silverman, who directed that 2007 film, said that the biggest challenge was to achieve the “necessary precision in the clothing”, which included inventive post-animation effects to capture the different textures and movement, for example Marge’s runway look: a gold metallic ballgown.

Balenciaga sent 15 looks to choose the “Simpsons” team for the final show, all based on designs from the last five years. But placing them on the bodies of these universally recognizable cartoon characters wasn’t so straightforward.

“It was difficult for us, to capture that balance of caricature and the integrity of the clothing,” Silverman said. “You’re translating the look of actual clothing, actual designs on these characters that have absolutely no human proportions.”

Silverman, who joked-but-not-really how he spent his summer vacation, studied runway footage to learn what audiences should be wearing and how the lighting should be on the catwalk.

The script also had to capture the particular absurdity of the luxury fashion world and Balenciaga’s stature in that world — something that cannot be contained on Wikipedia. Jean said that in addition to the crash course at Balenciaga earlier in the year, watching a Netflix series about Halston, who was a big Balenciaga fan, helped her understand fashion’s ever-changing extreme culture.

Supporting characters are also based on real people and animals, including Gvasalia’s husband, Loic Gomez; his two dogs; Chief Creative Officer, Martina Tiefenthaler (who voiced herself); And workers at Balenciaga’s atelier who are completing the collection on a plane singing “Formidable, Formidable.”

It is one of Gvasalia’s favorite scenes in the episode, he said: “It makes me so happy every time I watch it.”

As for Gvasalia’s voice, “we had to try to get him to play himself, but he didn’t want to,” Jean said. He felt that was in line with Gvasalia’s recent decision to completely obscure his face and body during public appearances, causing confusion among observers as to whether it was actually him.

When asked why he would Aligns Balenciaga With “The Simpsons” And whether he felt there were any similarities between the brands, Gvasalia said that “is more personal to me.”

“I didn’t want to align anything or make sense of anything. I just wanted to create an iconic visual story.”

While the novelty of the collaboration made it surprising, the brands share a similar ethos. They have an appreciation for self-reference, breaking the rules of presentation (airing an episode with live animation; turning a red carpet into a runway show without telling anyone) and bridging highbrows and lowbrows. Jean called Gvasalia an “excellent collaborator”, and Gvasalia described the experience as “the highest level of collaboration” and “a dream come true”.

“I had no idea how complicated it is to make a 10-minute long episode, such a huge respect for it,” he said.

Whether the act was to challenge the self-seriousness of fashion or the public’s perceptions of luxury – or to bring Balenciaga to the suburban masses Balenciaga from the suburban masses – something he would let the critics debate.

What did he want from it? “A smile and a good dose of fun.”

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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